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Why the US and China Fight Over Intellectual Property

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Why the US and China Fight Over Intellectual Property


5 min read
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Patent and trademark disputes fuel conflict worldwide – especially between China and the United States.

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Patented and trademarked ideas fuel the modern world economy – especially the digital economy. On the threshold of more transformative technologies, the major economic powers, notably China and the United States, hotly compete for intellectual property rights. In the US, trademark applications have nearly doubled in less than 20 years, and innovative industries inject trillions into the US economy. In this CNBC report, international technology reporter Elizabeth Schulze clarifies why China has become America’s main intellectual property competitor and what the US can do about it. 


In the United States, protecting intellectual property rights dates back to the Constitution.

Trademarked and patented ideas and inventions shape the contemporary world, and the digital revolution plays a central role. Given advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the digital world stands on the threshold of radical revolution.

Worldwide trademark applications have risen 160% since 2008. During the same period, United States patent applications rose 70%. In the US, enforcement of intellectual property rights – including patents, trademarks and copyrights – dates back to the Constitution. America passed its first patent legislation in 1790. American intellectual property rights law gives inventors 20 years of protection if they create and market an idea that offers an inventive way to solve a problem. Trademarks protect names and marketing...

About the Speaker

CNBC International technology correspondent Elizabeth Schulze reports daily from her London base across CNBC’s television, digital and social platforms.

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